Ed Hawkins previews The Hundred clash from Southampton on Friday and says the pre-tournament favourites are in danger
"Spirit's struggles against spin versus the Rockets was not wholly surprising. It had been identified as an issue pre-tournament"
Southern Brave v Birmingham Phoenix
Friday 30 July 18.30
TV: live on Sky Sports
Still no Archer
Southern Brave, the pre-tournament favourites, have now lost two out of two and their hopes of finishing in the top three are diminishing by the day. There is still no confirmation that Jofra Archer will return with skip James Vince saying the paceman's fitness was being analysed by England management. They might get him for the last four group games by which time it could be too late.
They did boost their line-up with Quinton de Kock against Welsh Fire and for the early stages of their reply to a monstrous target of 166, they looked every inch a title tilt outfit. But when de Kock went for a brutal 21 off seven, they lost their way. Devon Conway got bogged down, Colin de Grandhomme continued to be unimpressive and James Vince fought a lone battle.
It will concern Brave that their batting has now flopped against spin (versus Trent Rockets) and then variation. Should Jimmy Neesham really be taking three for five? It's also a worry that Chris Jordan is batting ahead of Craig Overton, suggesting they've not done their homework on boundary hitting.
Probable XI Vince, De Kock, Conway, Davies, Whiteley, De Grandhomme, Jordan, Overton, Briggs, Mills, Lintrott
Phoenix need to rise
The Phoenix have work to do to get their best XI out on the park after a chastening defeat by Manchester Originals last time out. Sure, they can blame the pitch (it ragged square as they were shot out for 87) but there is a nagging doubt that they're not making best use of resources.
Can they get pacer Dillon Pennington into this team? Is Daniel Bell-Drummond lost in the middle order? The latter issue will be solved if they can get hitter Tom Abell fit. If not they may also need to lose Chris Cooke and let Chris Benjamin take over with the gloves to find room for an extra bowler.
They are making sound calls. Miles Hammond goes under the radar in terms of 'name' players but his boundary percentage is excellent and opening with him shows the sort of intent that is required.
Possible XI Hammond, Allen, Livingstone, Moeen, Tom Abell, Benjamin, Howell, Cooke, Milne, Brown, Tahir
This is the first match played at Southampton and it will be interesting to see how it plays. In T20 data for all The Hundred venues it comes out as the lowest scoring in terms of run rate - just 7.2 an over. In the last two years the runs per ball average has been 1.36. That would suggest the total is going to come under the average total so far in the tournament, although it is early days. If the runs par line is at that 146.5 mark it may pay to go under. The weather forecast says a slim chance of rain so we should get a full game.
The Hundred data
Batting 1st average score 138
RBP average 1.42
RBP average batting 2nd 1.42
145 or more 3/7
Powerplay average 36.7
Powerplay ave batting 1st 35.7
Powerplay average batting 2nd 37.7
Favourite wins 4/9
Chaser wins 4/7
Phoenix spin is key
Spirit's struggles against spin versus the Rockets was not wholly surprising. It had been identified as an issue pre-tournament. The Phoenix will know about it as they are one of the franchises led most by data.
Birmingham, then, could use Moeen Ali, Liam Livingstone, Imran Tahir and Benny Howell. Howell is not a traditional spinner but he has been bowling so slowly it is far to describe him as such in this competition.
They will be particularly keen to target De Kock who is not at his strongest against tweak.
An example is the head-to-head with Tahir. De Kock strikes at just 75 in T20 and he has lost his wicket twice to his compatriot.
We would expect Birmingham to be available at 2.206/5 minimum just before the off. Keeping them on side in a chase is a possible caveat but we're content they have the skills to trade as favourites.
De Kock and Finn Allen have been price-boosted by Sportsbook for top Brave and Phoenix bat respectively to 12/5 and 7/2. But does this surface reward the destructive strokemakers who need to hit through the line with no fear? On a sluggish surface it may pay to go low - Ross Whiteley catches the eye at 15/2 for Brave while Benjamin is chunky at 12s.
Man of the match prices are of interest. De Kock will be very popular at 7s but bowlers could get a foothold. Tahir has appeal at 14s for Phoenix while Adam Milne is an absolute gun in terms of economy and potency. He is 12s.
No Cash Out suspensions on Match Odds!
We are now offering no Cash Out suspensions on Match Odds on the Sportsbook for all The Hundred matches. T&Cs apply - click for more details